how to foster independence in your preschooler

Every parent wants their child to grow up to be an autonomous, self-reliant adult. Independence is an essential quality to foster to make this happen. However, it’s easier said than done. Many parents can’t help but do everything for their child, even things that they could do for themselves. After all, they will always be your baby.

However, when your child reaches preschool age, they are not actually a baby anymore, and treating them as such will only make it more difficult for them to become independent as they continue to grow.

start small

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. When you want your child to become more independent, you shouldn’t begin by dumping a large responsibility on their shoulders, such as making their own lunch. You may start by letting them pick a snack out of the pantry to include in their lunch, then letting them put it in their lunch box. After they have mastered that, you can give them bigger responsibilities, such as making a sandwich, choosing the rest of their lunch, and packing all of the elements. Small milestones will help them gradually become more independent.

step back

When you see your child struggling with something, it’s tempting to jump right in and try to save them the trouble. This robs them of a learning opportunity. In order for your child to be successful, they need to fail. No path to competence is free of falling down, getting back up, and trying again. Take a step back and let your child try things. If they truly can’t do it on their own, you can offer your help.

stick to a routine

Routines are important for children. When a child can anticipate what is going to happen, it gives them the security and stability to explore the world and their mind freely. If they don’t know what to expect out of the day, they spend their mental energy worrying and they feel out of control of themselves. Predictability gives them the foundation they need to have autonomy. Obviously, things come up from time to time, but stick to a schedule as closely as you can. When it does have to change, make sure to communicate that to your child.

offer choices

Cognitively, your child isn’t mature enough to make certain decisions. You don’t want to leave everything up to them — for example, if they were responsible for choosing their dinner every night, they will probably go with ice cream. Providing them choices gives you control while giving them a sense of agency. For example, you could say, “Would you rather have broccoli or green beans are your vegetable at dinner?” This gives them more freedom without more freedom than they are ready for.

enroll in our montessori preschool in houston

The Montessori method is designed to help children become more independent by giving them autonomy over their education. In the Montessori classroom, students guide their own learning, moving freely about and engaging in activities that spark their curiosity. This naturally gives children the space they need to become more independent.

If you’re looking for a child care program in Houston that helps your child become more self-reliant, we would love to help. Contact us to schedule a tour of our Montessori preschool.